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Two-time graduate gives back to WMU

April 19, 2010

KALAMAZOO--Two-time Western Michigan University graduate William J. Parsons has announced that he will give $300,000 to his alma mater to boost student-athlete scholarships.

Parsons, a former human resources director for international law firm Miller-Canfield, is donating the money to establish the Parsons Family Endowment for Athletics. Annual proceeds from the fund will be about $13,500--enough to support one deserving football or basketball player every year beginning this fall.

The endowment is named after Parsons and his deceased spouse, Sarah, who also graduated from WMU. The two met as students of the University's Lee Honors College, where both eventually earned their undergraduate degrees--Parsons in history in 1967 and Sarah in secondary education in 1966. Parsons went on to receive a master's degree from WMU in 1971.

Parsons says while he earned both of his degrees through hard work, a large portion of the financial strain was alleviated thanks to scholarships provided by WMU. He feels the University gave him the opportunity and the tools to find success in life, and now he wants to give something back.

The Parsons Family Endowment for Athletics is not the only way Parsons has expressed his appreciation for WMU. He also endowed a scholarship for the Lee Honors College in memory of Sarah, and has a life insurance policy that will benefit Bronco student-athletes. He is a volunteer with the Gary Fund, serves on the Lee Honors College Advisory Board and is a member of the Alumni Association Board.

Not able to pursue an athletic career at WMU himself, Parsons served as a team manager for the football Broncos for one year. He was also a fan of Bronco basketball, and recalls the first game he ever watched at University Arena--a 105-102 loss to top-ranked Loyola-Chicago on Dec. 12, 1963. Forty-seven years later, Parsons remains a die-hard Bronco fan.

"I have had season basketball and football tickets for years, and I know that Western has always tried to put the best coaches and players on the field," Parsons says. "I am a fan that understands you are not going to win a championship every year. But, to get there, you need have the best and the brightest on the coaching staff and team. There's no way you can build a strong program without financial resources and support."

WMU athletic director Kathy Beauregard says the Parsons family gift will build a lasting legacy for WMU's student-athletes to succeed at the NCAA's highest level of competition while completing their degree.

For more information about the Parsons Family Endowment for Athletics, or to support WMU and its student-athletes, contact Rob Hunt, Development Office, at robert.hunt@wmich.edu or (269) 387-3057.

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Media contact: Mat Kanan, (269) 387-4125, mat.kanan@wmich.edu

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